COOPER COUNTY RIVERS & STREAMS
“Headwater” is the origin point of a stream.
“Mouth” is where it empties into another body of water. Thus the headwaters of the Lamine are in Pettis County while its mouth is in Cooper County on the Missouri River.
A “Tributary” is a stream or river that flows into a larger stream or main stream (or parent) river. A tributary does not flow directly into a sea or ocean. A “Confluence” is where two or more bodies of water meet together, and usually refers to the joining of tributaries.
A “Spring” is a point at which water from an aquifer flows to the surface.
A “Seep” is a wet or moist place where groundwater oozes to the surface.
A “Creek” is a natural stream of water normally smaller than and often tributary to a river.
A “Stream” source can be from a spring or it can form at a point where the drainage of rainwater comes together.
RIVERS AND STREAMS
Cooper County has been blessed with an abundance of water from springs, creeks, streams and rivers. The two main rivers are the Lamine and the Blackwater. The main creek is the Petite Saline. After joining the Missouri River, the water travels to the Mississippi River and down to the Gulf of Mexico.
The LAMINE RIVER is a 63.8-mile- tributary of the Missouri River in Cooper County. It is formed in northern Morgan County, about 4 miles southeast of Otterville by the confluence of the Flat and Richland creeks, and flows generally northwardly through Cooper and Pettis counties. In northwestern Cooper County the Lamine collects water from the Blackwater River and flows into the Missouri River northeast of Lamine and 6 miles west of Boonville. At Clifton City, the river has a mean annual discharge of 455 cubic feet per second. Below the mouth of the Blackwater River, its discharge averages 1,279 cubic feet per second. The river was named by French explorers for the mining operations in the area, the river has also been known as "La Mine River" and as "Riviere a la Mine."
The water from Chouteau Springs (two clear water and 3 Sulphur water springs) in Pilot Grove Township flows into Chouteau Creek then into the Lamine, which eventually reaches the Missouri River. These springs discharge water at the rate of ten gallons per minute or 14,400 gallons per day.
The BLACKWATER RIVER is formed by the confluence of the North Fork Blackwater River and the South Fork Blackwater River in Johnson County approximately 6 miles northwest of Warrensburg. The river flows generally east-northeastwardly through Johnson, Pettis, Saline and Cooper counties, past the towns of Sweet Springs and Blackwater. It flows into the Lamine River in northwestern Cooper County, approximately 4 miles southeast of Blackwater. The Blackwater River is 16 miles longer than the Lamine River, of which it is a tributary. The Blackwater River is a 79.3-mile-long tributary of the Lamine River via the Lamine and Missouri rivers, it is part of the watershed of the Mississippi River. The Blackwater River was named from the character of its banks and water.
The stream source area is along the Morgan-Moniteau county line just north of U.S. Route 50 two miles east of Syracuse and three miles west of Tipton at an elevation of about 920 feet. The stream flows north into Cooper County crossing under, and flowing parallel to, the west side of Missouri Route 5. The stream turns east again crossing under Route 5 just south of Billingsville. The stream flows generally east passing under Missouri Route 87 southeast of Boonville. The stream continues east to southeast passing under Missouri Route 179 south of Wooldridge. The stream enters the Missouri River bottom just south of Wooldridge in eastern Cooper County and the confluence with the Missouri is in the northern corner of Moniteau County across the river from McBaine and an elevation of 564 feet.
Lewis and Clark passed by the Petite Saline on June 6, 1804 and made mention of this creek in their journals. ‘Passed the mouth of a creek called ‘saline’ or ‘salt’ creek. This river is about 30 yards wide and has so many licks and salt springs on its banks that water of the creek is brackish. One very large lick is 9 miles up on the left side. The water of this spring is strong. So much so, that it is said one bushel will make 7 pounds of good salt.”
There once were five covered bridges in Cooper County: Crawford, Hurt, Connors, Shoemaker, and Big Lick. They all spanned the Petite Saline Creek. All the covered bridges were replaced many years ago by either metal or concrete structures.
Sadly, there are no known photos of any of the covered bridges in Cooper County. This is a sketch of the covered bridge on highway 5 between Boonville and Billingsville by Florence Friederichs.
The Swinging Bridge
Pretend you are a child in 1930 and your dad is going to drive you across the brand-new swinging bridge for the first time. You are tall enough to see the steep hill going up to the bridge. The truck starts across the wide boards that don't look a bit safe. You dad is driving very slowly, but you can hear creaking and bumping of the metal against metal and the wooden planks. You press your nose against the passenger window and see the dirt-brown Lamine River looming 30 feet below. The trip across the 231-foot bridge seems to take too long. Then comes the stomach-churning descent on the other side. Your dad shuts off the engine and you hop out to watch vehicles behind you crossing. Some drivers turn around, not brave enough to venture across. When the bridge is empty, your dad reaches out his hand and says, “Let's walk across.” Your heart pounds at the thought. He grabs your hand, leading you up the steep hill. A gentle breeze causes the bridge to sway. You take one step and another until both feet are planted on one of the wooden boards. The world is moving beneath your feet, pitching and rolling, like a carnival ride.
Your dad tells you that farmers wanted a bridge built northwest of Pleasant Green, Missouri. They hired a man named Joe Dice, who had built other bridges like this one. A lot of local people helped build this bridge.
Your dad showed you two thick groups of wires that helped reinforce the structure. More than 300 individual wires make up each bunch. Two 22-foot-deep holes on each end of the bridge were filled with hand-made concrete that served to anchor the bridge.
Pretend now, it's 1994 and you are an old person. You see the bridge floor collapsed from heavy flooding, sinking into the river. It is no longer safe. The Cooper County Historical Society tries to save it, but the cost is too expensive. In 1996, you stand and watch as the bridge is removed from the Lamine River. You think back and can almost feel that bridge swaying beneath your feet.
Swinging Bridge near Lamine
Underside of Swinging Bridge over Lamine
Old Bridge over Lamine River